Nelson Piquet to receive honour at Autosport Awards 2017

Credit: Autosport Awards / LAT Images

Triple Formula 1 world champion, Nelson Piquet, will receive the prestigious Gregor Grant Award for Lifetime Achievement in Motorsport, at the 2017 Autosport Awards on December 3.

The Brazilian, one of just ten drivers to achieve three world titles, will be there to accept the honour on the night, at the ceremony that has now been going since 1989.

The event itself has long been considered one of the “biggest nights in motorsport” and has welcomed a number of motorsport legends across the years, such as the late, great Ayrton Senna, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Colin McRae and Niki Lauda.

It is a night to celebrate all things racing, from the up and coming talent waiting to break onto the scene, to the icons that are the reason we love the sport so much. Piquet will join other racing legends such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss, Alain Prost and Emerson Fittipaldi, in receiving the honour.

Speaking of the award, Piquet said that he was very proud that Autosport had chosen to recognise his achievements.

“It is an honour to offered this award and join a very special list of winners.

“I’m very proud that Autosport has chosen to reflect on my racing career and I am looking forward to meeting old friends at the event.”

The Brazilian made his Formula 1 debut in 1978 with Team Tissot, racing a privately entered Team Ensign/Cosworth at Hockenheimring as well as taking part in three races in a privately entered McLaren. It was his efforts that year that piqued the interest of Bernie Ecclestone, then Boss of Brabham, who wasted no time in signing him up as team-mate to Lauda for the 1979 season.

Piquet was immediately impressive, outshining his considerably more successful team-mate, who retired at the end of the season to make the Brazilian the team’s number one driver.

He almost won the title in 1980, and had it not been for an engine failure in the penultimate race of the season, the crown would likely have been his. The following year was set to be Piquet’s however, and with three race wins under his belt, having battled all season long with Carlos Reutteman, he sealed the title by one point, by finishing higher than his rival in the demanding desert heat of Las Vegas. Title number one was in the bag.

In 1983, Piquet was leading the way again, battling hard throughout the season with then rising French star Prost, taking three victories in the turbocharged BMW-Brabham BT52. However, it was a third place finish at the final race of the season in South Africa that handed Piquet his second Drivers’ Championship.

Piquet had to wait a further four years to claim his third title, in 1987. Now at Williams, the Brazilian was locked in a bitter battle with team-mate Nigel Mansell for the honours. The pair had come to blows in the previous season of 1986, when the Brit outpaced the Brazilian on a number of occasions and won five races to Piquet’s four, a fact the Brazilian could not handle.

Their hatred for one another got the better of them however, seeing both men lose the title to Prost at the final moment, despite having every chance of winning it for the entire season. Losing out in that manner infuriated Piquet, who by now also felt the team were favouring Mansell.

Back to 1987, and the two teammates were both gunning for victory. A near catastrophic crash for Piquet in the second race of the season at Imola however, looked to have taken the title away from him. It did not.

The Brazilian returned at the next race in Spa, going on to record nine consecutive podiums (which included three wins). A better finishing record handed the Brazilian the world title over Mansell, despite the Brit’s seven victories. Piquet was now a triple world champion.

As well as the Gregor Grant Award, there will be a number of other presentations on what is set to be a spectacular night.

Among the nominees up for honours are Lewis Hamilton for International Racing Driver of the Year, having claimed his fourth F1 World Championship in 2017 and Fernando Alonso for Rookie of the Year, following his 2017 Indy 500 debut in May, where he was in with a shot of winning, had it not been for yet another Honda engine failure.

Other awards on the billing include Racing Car of the Year, Rally Car of the Year, British Competition Driver of the Year, National Driver of the Year, International Rally Driver of the Year, Rider of the Year and British Club Driver of the Year.

The winner of the now acclaimed McLaren Autosport BRDC Award will also be announced, with four young British drivers – Enaam Ahmed, Max Fewtrell, Harrison Scott and Dan Ticktum – all up for the coveted award, which offers the winner a F1 test and the opportunity to join the McLaren Young Driver Programme in 2018.

Former F1 driver David Coulthard and TV presenter Lee McKenzie will present the Autosport Awards this year for the first time.